After my first couple of races in Overpass 2, I was ready to bang my head against the wall. No matter how careful I was trying to manage the difficult terrain, I’d flip over, clip a rock and carreen off a cliff face, or get rammed by an AI driver, forcing me to reset and incur a time penalty. For a good while, Overpass 2 drove me insane, and I was all but ready to give up on it, but there’s something there that made me keep playing – made me want to get better. Through sheer determination, I began to appreciate the nuances of the three different types of vehicles and slowly but surely start to enjoy the ride.
That’s not to say Overpass 2 isn’t frustrating, but it feels as though you really have to approach each course with a different mindset. If you’re familiar with racers like Gran Turismo, Forza Motorsport, or any number of Milestone’s efforts, you’re going to have a rude awakening with this one. Trading speed for caution, most of your time is spent riding your UTVs and ATVs over rocks of all shapes and sizes, thick logs and tires, and seesaws that require timing and skill to race over. And when you’ve started to get used to them, you’ll have those races where you’re literally climbing up mountains inside a Rock Bouncer.
The main focus of Overpass 2 is the career mode, where you’ll participate in a variety of races and challenges in order to earn credits to buy new vehicles, research and upgrade better parts, manage your team by hiring better staff, and sticking to the objectives set by your sponsor. It’s all familiar territory, but knowing what to improve all revolves around how best to successfully overcome the steep learning curves found in the events. By simply spending time out in the harsh realities of your career in the open air, you’ll start to understand how best to prepare. It’s tough, don’t get me wrong, but there’s a satisfaction in those incremental improvements.
The skill tree provides you with further improvements across a broad range of categories, and with each level you’ll unlock points to spend which will improve things like the amount of money you earn, how better the different types of wheels perform, upgrades taking less time, and more. There’s always help on the horizon, but it’s all dependant on how well you perform when racing. Overpass 2 offers a wealth of vehicles from top manufacturers like Suzuki and Yamaha, so if you’re familiar with off-road racing, there’re enough choices to pick the ones you like the most.
Events range from closed circuits that follow the more traditional racers minus some of the game’s tougher challenges; off-road sprints and circuits that require a steady nerve that switch between uninterrupted straights and tricky terrain; hill climbs where you must make your way up a mountain without losing momentum or crashing in a pile of bones and metal; and obstacle courses which throw everything at you in an attempt to stop you from reaching the finishing line with a good time. Overpass 2 is at its best when you’re successfully switching between rear-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, and differential to manage each course, successfully navigating obstacles without gaining a collection of penalties.
Hitting cones, falling off your bike, resetting your vehicle, and missing obstacles can hit you with a time penalty, and at first it’s frustrating, especially when you’re doing all you can to stay on course. It isn’t until you realise other AI drivers are also racking up time penalties, making you realise you’re not being as punished as you think. The AI isn’t particularly bad, but I often saw fellow drivers go flying into a rock, drive off the track in style, or clip something that broke their own momentum. Other times, they managed to fly right into the side of me and send me crashing. It feels a bit unbalanced, but I often dreaded races alongside others because I never knew what to expect.
The UTVs are often the best to handle as I rarely encountered issues as long as I switched between the different power distributions in my wheels. RWD gives you that boost on the straights but is clumsy entering corners. 4WD allows distributed power to each wheel to provide stability going over rocks and some of the lighter obstacles. Differential is a necessity when manoeuvring up-hill, or over tough terrain, and the UTV was adept with each of the three formations. The ATV was trickier to control and more vulnerable to some of the course’s challenging obstacles, whereas the Rock Bouncer was a beast of a car in every sense of the word.
Overpass 2 is a tough racer to acclimatise to because of the punishing terrain and fragile handling, especially with the ATVs. The slightest knock or wrong approach to terrain can punish you, and it takes a while until you grasp the nuances in the handling. The career mode doesn’t do anything particularly new compared to other career modes across the genre, but the different events are fun, especially ones which throw unique challenges at you like trying to finish a sprint with a broken down vehicle close to be written off. It requires patience and a willingness to learn and master the various environments, and once you’ve done that, there’s a decent racer that offers a different kind of challenge.
Decent career mode
Plenty of events and challenges
Good upgrade system
Courses are varied
Difficult to get to grips with
AI is unbalanced
Punishes small mistakes